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Scooter Bandits
TA-4J Adversaries Part Two

Afterburner Decals, 1/48 scale


Summary

Catalogue Number:

Afterburner Decals AD 48-038 - Scooter Bandits TA-4J Adversaries Part Two

Scale:

1/48

Contents and Media:

Waterslide decals plus instructions and notes

Price:

USD$15.00 available online from Afterburner Decals

Review Type:

FirstLook

Advantages:

Comprehenive sheet; unique subjects; outstanding support material; sheet packed with markings.

Disadvantages:

Some care will be required when cutting markings out of crowded sheet

Conclusion:

A great decal sheet with lots of colorful camouflage options to use on the new Classic Airframes TA-4 Skyhawk kits


Reviewed by David W. Aungst


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FirstLook

 

Background

With Classic Airframes releasing a model of the TA-4 Skyhawk (finally!), it was only a matter of time before the after-market decal industry picked up on this and created decals to go on the new kit. The first out of the chocks is Afterburner Decals.

While most TA-4 Skyhawks lived their entire lives in simple white and orange training paint, a select few saw service with the US Navy Adversary units (VA-43, VA-45, VA-126, VA-127, and Topgun). In the adversary units, these TA-4 Skyhawks got the same camouflages applied to them that all the rest of the adversary aircraft were wearing. Afterburner Decals has aimed their first Skyhawk decal sheets straight at these colorfully camouflaged adversary aircraft.

I had a hand in the research of this decal sheet, so it was no surprise to find that Afterburner had nailed down the colors and markings pretty well on this sheet.


 

The Decals

The package for these decals is the customary clear zip-lock baggie. The package is thick, having both the decals and two folded 8.5 x 11 inch full color instruction sheets. The register of the decals in my review samples was perfect. The instructions provides four-view diagrams of each aircraft, so you have everything you need to paint the models.

 

 

To save some bandwidth in this posting, you may click this link to go to the Afterburner web page displaying the camouflage diagrams. You can even order the sheet right from there!

The majority of the decals are literally crammed onto a single sheet. You will need to take care cutting these off the page or else you might damage others of the decals. There is a small addendum sheet with a few missed markings for inside the wing flaps.

The decals, themselves, are printed by Cartograf, which speak volumes to their usability and quality. When I spoke to Scott at Afterburner, he told me Cartograf allowed them to reference the colors of the decals in F.S. numbers (instead of Pantone number), so there is little excuse for the printing to be in the wrong colors.

As I found out recently using some TwoBobs decals, being the right color on the decal paper does not guarantee the markings will be the right color on the model, but having the colors correct on the paper is at least a good start. I pulled out my Federal Standard color chips fan deck and spot checked all the colors on the sheet. The good news is that they are pretty much spot-on for all the colors they are intended to represent. I'll find out later if they retain their colors when applied to a model.

There are eight aircraft provided on the sheet. They are as follows:

 

#1: TA-4J 154342, VC-8, 2002. This aircraft is one of the last Skyhawks flown in US military service. This is the scheme worn by the jet when retired. Note, the instructions mention red inside the wing flaps, but neglect to mention that there also was red inside the wing slats.

#2: TA-4J 158465, VA-127, 1986. This aircraft has a pleasing blue/gray stripe pattern. The instructions draw the scheme as symmetrical, but one possibility is that the stripes actually did reach the wing leading edge. Then, the wing slat was replaced (which happened frequently) and not repainted to match the camouflage. If this were true, the other wing could have camouflage all the way to the wing leading edge. Without more photo reference, it is impossible to really know.

#3: TA-4J 154656, VA-127, 1986. This aircraft has a pleasing stripe pattern, this time in earth tones. Note this aircraft has two different but similar schemes. The other scheme was nearly identical with light sand in place of the light gray in this scheme.

Note the light gray replacement wing slat in the image. This would not have been there always, so the decal instructions are not wrong to miss this detail.

#4: TA-4J 154334, VA-127, 1981. This is one of the earliest TA-4 adversary camouflages. The pattern is a fairly loose mottle done in closely matching light gray and blue colors with a darker blue added for contrast.
#5: TA-4J 153690, VA-127, 1983. This is one of my personal favorites. The aircraft is done up in overall powder blue with a thin mottling of light gray. The effect is really pleasing (at least to me).
#6: TA-4J 153672, VA-127, 1982. This is a really cryptic scheme that highlights the perils of trying to gauge colors from color photos. I only found two color images of this aircraft. Both are shot the same day, based on the backgrounds. One is very olive, the other is more tan. I feel the more tan one was right (displayed here) and based my color recommendations from that.
#7: TA-4J 153491, VA-126, 1991. This aircraft sports a three-tone gray camouflage. The dark block on the tail is of note. In the image to the right, it appears to be green, making it a reference to a Libyan flag. But the decals print it as black. The picture is not conclusive enough to be sure what it is. I would have to think that Afterburner had additional reference to get the color right.

#8: TA-4J 153683, VA-127, 1983. The US Navy painted two Skyhawks in the deceptive MiG scheme. One was an A-4E from Topgun. The other is this TA-4 from VA-127. This TA-4 carried the scheme for a longer time than did the Topgun A-4E. And, the TA-4 had a genesis of versions to this scheme. Represented here is the later version of the scheme with sand and brown camouflage and black cheat lines.


All this is great. I could find no real faults with the decals. There are some challenges when you go to use them, however. As I mentioned above, the sheet is crammed tight with markings. Modelers will need to take care cutting out the decals so as not to damage any surrounding decals in the process.

The other issue that could cause some trouble is that the colors of the decals are quite subtle, especially on the gray aircraft. Most of the gray aircraft have two or three color tones of markings and they can be easily mixed up. Modelers will need to watch which decals they apply where to get the correct ones in the correct locations based on the colors. There is no numbering of the decals to assist the modelers to know exactly which decals go where. But, this is a pretty picky point. With care, the average modeler should be able to figure things out.

 

 

Conclusion

 

This is another great decal sheet with lots of colorful camouflage options to use on the new Classic Airframes TA-4 Skyhawk kits. On a personal note, I like more of the aircraft on this second sheet than on the first sheet. I can see me building several of these (in time).


Review Copyright 2008 by David W. Aungst
This Page Created on 17 August, 2008
Last updated 18 August, 2008

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